Annexation backers talking up plan

With the annexation of McCormick Woods into the city of Port Orchard on the table, advocates of the proposal have realized that communicating with those affected by the proposed action as the most important step.

“We do not now have a method to communicate with the entire community,” said Annexation Committee Chairman Dick Davis. “We need to get this proposal in front of people.”

The process is governed by a series of numbers:

• The property has an assessed value of $328 million.

• In order for it to continue, property owners representing 75 percent of that value, $246 million, will need to sign a petition in support of annexation.

•?Petitions need to be submitted six months after the first signature is collected, and any annexation action must be submitted by the end of August on any particular year.

Since annexation advocates have not planned the signature drive it will not make the 2008 deadline. The 2009 assessment numbers will differ, and since the deadline is next August there is no rush to complete the petition.

In the likely event that the annexation proposal is submitted in 2009, there would be no additional McCormick Woods revenue collected by Port Orchard until the 2010 tax year.

There are some advantages to annexation for the owners of the 871 parcels included in the proposal. Police and fire coverage would presumably improve, as would public works.

As part of unincorporated Kitsap County, McCormick Woods depends on the county for services. Looking ahead, if the county loses the Silverdale tax base to incorporation, it could have less money to support McCormick Woods.

Ray McGovern, a McCormick Woods resident who supports annexation, said the area would be better represented as part of the city.

“We make up 2 percent of the county,” he said. “We would make up 24 percent of the city. This would give us more political clout. Maybe we could put one of our own onto the city council.”

However, some perceived advantages might not be so advantageous after all. “This isn’t a high-crime area,” McGovern noted, “so maybe increased police protection just means they will be out here writing more traffic tickets.”

While the benefits of the union are clear for both sides, both Davis and McGovern say it’s up to the city to sell the idea to the residents. “They made the approach,” McGovern said, “so it’s up to them to court us and convince us of the advantages.”

According to Davis’ annexation newsletter, sent on May 15, there are several reservations homeowners have about annexation that must be addressed. Much of this has to do with the assessment of impact fees brought about by new construction. And any part of the annexation proposal that takes money away from the schools will meet immediate, decisive opposition from residents.

Part of the “courting” by the city includes the implementation and financial support of the petition drive. “It costs us $350 to do a mailing,” Davis said, “which is money that we don’t have.”

Davis noted the campaign could be a combination of mail, canvassing, public meetings and newsletters. There could also be an Internet presence, but there are no plans for a Web site at this time.

Getting to all the residents is a difficult task, he conceded, since many just toss out any mail from an unfamiliar address. And making the communication look a bill doesn’t get any better results.

Over the next few months, annexation advocates will meet among themselves and with the city to determine specifics about when and how to proceed.

Once the petition drive begins, the game will be over when the 75 percent level is reached or six month elapses, whichever comes first.

Once approved, the proposal would go to the Kitsap County Boundary Review Board and the decision will be in the county’s hands.

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel said she sees no obstacles to annexation as long as the qualified majority is in favor.

However, Angel is scheduled to leave office at the end of 2008 and most likely will not be commissioner when the issue is decided.

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